Connie Hamzy, Grand Funk Railroad’s Inspiration for ‘We’re an American Band,’ Dies at 66

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)

One of the world’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll groupies died recently. Connie Hamzy first became a legend when Grand Funk Railroad name-checked her in the band’s No. 1 hit “We’re An American Band.” The Arkansas native was 66.

Hamzy gets her shoutout in the opening verse.

“Out on the road for forty days / Last night in Little Rock put me in a haze / Sweet, sweet Connie, doin’ her act / She had the whole show and that’s a natural fact.”

Though Connie was only 17 at the time, she had already made a name for herself with some of the world’s most famous rock stars.

Pat “Flap” Jones, the host of KUAR radio’s “Not Necessarily Nashville,” remembers Hamzy from those early days. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jones recalls going to concerts and getting there hours early in an attempt to meet the bands. Hamzy would already be there, and before the night was over she would always end up backstage with the band.

In later years, she loved the attention that the Grand Funk Railroad song gave her. She often wore a shirt that said “Grand Funk’d” while walking around Little Rock, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said.

Though, it wasn’t all positive. She worked as a substitute teacher in the 1980s. When the local school board found out that she was that Connie from the Grand Funk Railroad song, they fired her, Jones said.

“That really hurt her,” Jones wrote on Facebook. “She loved children and was quite good with them.”

Grand Funk Railroad Wasn’t The Only Band

Connie Hamzy told TVH11 in 2019 that she became a rock ‘n’ roll groupie by accident. When she was just 15, she started going to rock shows. But her mom hated dealing with parking or traffic, so she would drop her daughter off hours before the shows.

“We’d go out there and wander around the backstage area, and then one thing would lead to another,” she said.

Her first experience was with the band Steppenwolf, who is most famous for their hits “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Born to be Wild.”

She ended up becoming friends with bands like Queen, The Eagles, and Guess Who. Guess Who shouted out “Sweet Connie” in their song “Pleasin for Reason,” and so did Cheap Trick in the band’s track “Standing on the Edge,” it’s been reported.

Though, her favorite band was Van Halen, who she went with the band on the Monsters of Rock Tour.

Hamzy wrote a memoir about her escapades in 1995 called Rock Groupie: The Intimate Adventures of “Sweet Connie.”

Michael Hibblen, the news director at KUAR, said Hamzy would hold court in a local bar nearly every day with her stories.

“She would sit there at the bar at The Town Pump and openly share her escapades with rock stars,” he told the Democrat-Gazette. “She’d give all kinds of graphic details. … She wasn’t shamed by it in later life. She still had fun telling those stories.”

Hamzy told Howard Stern in 2010 that her rock lovers included members of The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Bad Company, Allman Brothers Band, ZZ Top, the Doobie Brothers, as well as country legend Willie Nelson, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons, Huey Lewis, as well as Peter Frampton and Rick Springfield.